Photo by Guillermo Vilela

1978

With actor Dustin Hoffman [right]

               

NESTOR ALMENDROS

Born: 30 October 1930, Barcelona, Spain, as Néstor Almendros Cuyás, as son of writer/pedagogue Herminio Almendros Ibáñez [1898-1974].

Died: 4 March 1992, New York City, N.Y., USA.

Education: Universidad de la Habana [Philosophy and Letters; graduated in 1955]; New York City College [film studies, 1955-56]; Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografica [CSC] [1956-57].

Career: Moved to Havana, Cuba, in 1948 to join his father, a Republican loyalist who had left Spain at the end of the Civil War. In Cuba he made a number of 8mm and 16mm amateur movies and attended Havana University briefly. Co-founder [in 1949] of Cuba's first cine club and film archive. Moved to Rome, Italy, and studied briefly at the CSC. Moved to the USA in the late 1950s and taught Spanish at Vassar for two years and directed Spanish student plays at Middlebury College. Returned to Havana in 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista dictatorship. Made several doc's for the Instituto Cubano di Arte en Industria Cinematografica [ICAIC]. Moved to Paris, France, and worked as a teacher and still ph.

Ph commercials dir by Joël Séria, J. Leberre, Richard Avedon, Martin Scorsese, a.o.

Antonio Gosálvez wrote the book 'Néstor Almendros en Sevilla' [1999, Filmoteca de Andalucía]. Published his autobiography, 'Un homme à la caméra/A Man with a Camera', in 1980.

Co-signed an Open Letter to Fidel Castro in The New York Review of Books [02.02.1989].

Human Rights Watch and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, created the 'Nestor Almendros Prize' for courage and commitment in human rights filmmaking. The Italian Istituto Cinematografico dell'Aquila and the AIC created the 'Nestor Almendros Award' for young or emerging directors of photography.

Was a member of the ASC.

Appeared in the doc 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991].

Awards: As doph: NSFC Award [1971] for 'L'enfant sauvage'; NSFC Award [1971] for 'Ma nuit chez Maud'; 'Oscar' AA [1978], LAFCA Award [1978], BSC Award nom [1979] & NSFC Award [1979] for 'Days of Heaven'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1979] for 'Kramer vs. Kramer'; 'César' Award nom [1979] for 'La chambre verte'; 'César' Award nom [1980] for 'Perceval le Gallois'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1981] for 'The Blue Lagoon'; 'César' Award [1981] for 'Le dernier métro'; NYFCC Award [1982] & 'Oscar' AA nom [1983] for 'Sophie's Choice'.

As dir: San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay FF 'Audience Award' [1984; shared] for 'Mauvaise conduite'; International Documentary Association Award [1988; shared] for 'Nadie escuchaba'.


 


With Susan Sontag [1983] - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

'When I think of cinematographer Nestor Almendros's work on 'Sophie's Choice', I see Meryl Streep's translucent skin. I see a Brooklyn boarding house in the crisp afternoon sunlight, the monochromed evil of a Nazi rail yard, with searchlights scanning the faces of the doomed. When I watched 'Sophie's Choice' again recently, I saw something else: an attitude of gravity, a burnished intelligence in the sets, the performance, and the photography that seems now, when compared to the routine cacophony of crap that passes for movies nowadays, to be some relic of a lost tribe, an example of the kind of moviemaking that slowed down, reached high, and moved us. I mourn that type of movie, and that depth of intelligence. And I mourn the fading of Nestor Almendros' light. He was an artist of deep integrity, who believed the most beautiful light was natural light. […] I can't think of a single explosion in any of the films he shot, not a single matte painting, not one special effect that was not done 'in the camera'. Perhaps he was just lucky to work in a time before digital enhancement, before the 12-second attention span, before special effects became more interesting to look at than the human face. But there is something more - he was always true to a light's source, true to the emotion evoked by the cast and color of light as it changed through the day. He rejected the typical lighting schemes of the '40s and '50s, which called for key lights, backlight, fills and highlights. He preferred to first capture or augment existing light, then shape and bend it. He respected light's truth-telling element, the way it can expose and conceal. […] He will always be remembered as a cinematographer of absolute truth. He discovered beauty in the sepulchral darkness of the human face, and disquiet in the still life of a landscape. The next time I have to sit through a Hollywood blockbuster [or, let's face it, even an indie with a budget] and endure that inevitable onslaught of pyrotechnics, blue strobes, noirish shafts of hard light, overlit interiors and those dime-a-dozen smoke-filled slow-motion establishing shots, I will close my eyes and mourn the passing of Nestor Almendros, a true master of light.' [From article by Rustin Thompson in 'MovieMaker Magazine', #29, July 1998.]



 FILMS

1950

Una confusión cotidiana [Nestor Almendros & Tomás Gutiérrez Alea] 8mm/b&w; short/?m

1951

Cimarrón [Plácido González Gómez] 16mm/c; short/?m

1951

La boticaria [Nestor Almendros] 8mm/b&w; unfinished short film

1953

Un monólogo de Hamlet [Nestor Almendros & Ramón Suárez] 16mm/b&w; cph: Ramón Suárez

1953

Sabá [Nestor Almendros] 16mm/c

195?

Nunca [Nestor Almendros] 16mm/c; unfinished

1956

The Mount of Luna [Nestor Almendros] 16mm/b&w; exp short/7m

1958

58-59 [Nestor Almendros] 16mm/b&w; doc (New Year's Eve in New York City)/8m; + scrpl

1959

Construcciones rurales [Humberto Arenal] 16mm/b&w; doc/?m

1960

El agua [Manuel Octavio Gómez Martinez de Lahidalga] 16mm/b&w; doc/?m

1960

El tomate [Fausto Canel] 16mm/b&w; doc/?m

1960

Cooperativas agropecuarias [Fausto Canel] 16mm/b&w; doc/?m

1960

El tabaco [Humberto Arenal] 16mm/b&w; doc/?m; prod ICAIC

1960

Asamblea general [Tomás Gutiérrez Alea] b&w; doc/14m; cph: Ramón Suárez, Jorge Haydú, Luis Marzoa, a.o.; prod ICAIC

1960

Carnet de viaje/Travel Notebook [Joris Ivens] b&w; doc/34m; uncred cph; ph: Jorge Herrera & Ramón Suárez

1960

Gente en la playa/Sunday by the Sea/People of the Beach [Nestor Almendros] 16mm/b&w; doc/12m; + scrpl

1961

La tumba francesca [Nestor Almendros & Orlando Jiménez Leal] 16mm/b&w; doc/8m; cph: O. Jiménez Leal; + scrpl

1964

Nadja à Paris [Eric Rohmer] 16mm/b&w; doc/13m

1964

Pour mon anniversaire [Pierre-Richard Bré] 16mm/?; short/15m; cph: ?

1964

Paris vu par.../Six in Paris [1. Jean Douchet ('Saint-Germain-des-Prés'), 2. Jean Rouch ('Gare du Nord'), 3. Jean-Daniel Pollet ('Rue Saint-Denis'), 4. Éric Rohmer ('Place de l'Étoile'), 5. Jean-Luc Godard ('Montparnasse et Levallois') & 6. Claude Chabrol ('La Muette')] 16mm-35bu/c; 6 seg; ph seg 1 (18m), cph seg 4 (15m) & addph seg 5 (14m); other ph: Étienne Becker (seg 2 & cph seg 4), Alain Levent (seg 3 & cph seg 4), Albert Maysles (seg 5 & cph seg 6) & Jean Rabier (cph seg 6); Almendros' name does not appear in the credits because he did not have a work permit

1965

Le sursistaire [Serge Huet] 16mm/b&w; short/15m

1965

Une étudiante d'aujourd'hui [Eric Rohmer] 16mm/b&w; doc/13m

1965

[Les mauvaises fréquentations:] Le père Noël a les yeux bleus [Jean Eustache] b&w; short/47m; ph for one day; cph: Daniel Lacambre & Philippe Théaudière

1966

Loin des yeux [Claude Depêche] ?; short/?m

1966

L'insuffisance mitrale [Marie-José Weber] ?; short/?m

1966

Six contes moraux -  IV - La collectionneuse/The Collector [Eric Rohmer] c; + small part

1967

The Wild Racers [Daniel Haller & (uncred) Roger Corman] c; 2uc: Daniel Lacambre; addph (Holland): Alex Boon

1967

Tuset Street [Jorge Grau & Luis Marquina] c; uncred cph; ph: Alejandro Ulloa (finished the film)

1968

La fermière à Montfauçon [Eric Rohmer] 16mm/c; short/13m

1968

La méduse [Jacques Rozier] unfinished

1968

More [Barbet Schroeder] c; + art dir

1969

Ma nuit chez Maud/My Night at Maud's [Eric Rohmer] b&w

[Left] with François Truffaut - "L'enfant sauvage"

1969

L'enfant sauvage/The Wild Child/The Wild Boy [François Truffaut] b&w

1969

Des bleuets dans la tête [Gérard Brach] c; short/600mtr

1969

Gun Runner/The Gunrunners [Richard Compton] c; cph: Harold Archambault; as John Nestor

1969

Paddy [Daniel Haller] c; uncred cph; ph: Daniel Lacambre

1969

El baston [Nestor Almendros] c; short/12m; + scrpl

1970

Domicile conjugal/Bed and Board [François Truffaut] c

1970

Six contes moraux - V - Le genou de Claire/Claire's Knee [Eric Rohmer] c

1971

Les deux anglaises et le continent/Two English Girls/Anne and Muriel [François Truffaut] c

1971

Sing-Sing [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm/c; ethnological doc/13m

1971

Le repas rituel/Le rite du cochon [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm/c; ethnological doc/15m

1971

Maquillages [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm/c; ethnological doc/13m

1971

Le cochon aux patates douces [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm/c; ethnological doc/12m

1971

La vallée/The Valley [, Obscured by Clouds] [Barbet Schroeder] ts/c

1972

Les practicables de Jean Dubuffet [Jacques Scandelari & Daniel Cordier] ?; doc/15m; cph: Henri Szap

1972

L'amour, l'après-midi/Love in the Afternoon/Chloe in the Afternoon [Eric Rohmer] c

With dir Henri Graziani [right] - "Poil de carotte"

1972

Poil de carotte [Henri Graziani] c

1973

L'oiseau rare/A Rare Bird [Jean-Claude Brialy] c

1973

Femmes au soleil/15 août [Liliane Dreyfus] c

1973

La gueule ouverte [Maurice Pialat] c

1973

Général Idi Amin Dada, autoportrait/General Amin [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm-35bu/c; doc/86m

1973

The Gentleman Tramp [Richard Patterson & Peter Bogdanovich] b&w-c; doc/78m; ph Switzerland seq; addph: Bruce Logan; finished in 1975

1974

Born to Kill/Cockfighter/Wild Drifter/Gamblin' Man [Monte Hellman] c; 2uc: Allen Facemire

1974

Mes petites amoureuses [Jean Eustache] c

1975

L'histoire d'Adèle H./The Story of Adele H. [François Truffaut] c

1975

Maîtresse/Mistress [Barbet Schroeder] c

1975

La marquise d'O.../Die Marquise von O.../The Marquise of O [Eric Rohmer] c

1976

Days of Heaven [Terrence Malick] 35mm & 70bu/c; addph: Haskell Wexler; 2uc: Paul Ryan; time-lapse ph: Ken Middleham

1976

L'homme qui aimait les femmes/The Man Who Loved Women [François Truffaut] c

1977

Cambio de sexo/Change of Sex/I Want to Be a Woman [Vicente Aranda] c; cph: José Luis Alcaine

1977

Koko, le gorille qui parle/Koko, a Talking Gorilla [Barbet Schroeder] 16mm-35bu/c; doc/85m

1977

La vie devant soi/Madame Rosa [Moshe Mizrahi] c

1977

Goin' South [Jack Nicholson] c; addph: Hugh Gagnier

1977

La chambre verte/The Green Room [François Truffaut] c

1978

Perceval le Gallois [Eric Rohmer] p/c

1978

L'amour en fuite/Love on the Run [François Truffaut] b&w-c

1978

Kramer vs. Kramer [Robert Benton] c; assoc ph: Joe Coffey

1979

The Blue Lagoon [Randal Kleiser] c; addph: Vincent Monton; 2uc & insert ph: Peter Lyons Collister; uwph: Ron & Valerie Taylor

[Black cap] with dir François Truffaut [left] - "Le dernier métro"

1980

Le dernier métro/The Last Metro [François Truffaut] c

1980

Outre-mer [Jacques Fieschi] c; short/21m

1981

Still of the Night [Robert Benton] c; collab doph: Joe Coffey; + small part

1982

Sophie's Choice [Alan J. Pakula] c

1982

Pauline à la plage/Pauline at the Beach [Eric Rohmer] c

1982

Vivement dimanche!/Finally Sunday!/Confidentially Yours [François Truffaut] b&w

1983

Places in the Heart [Robert Benton] c; 2uc: Don Reddy & Philip Pfeiffer

1986

Heartburn [Mike Nichols] c

1987

Nadine [Robert Benton] c

1988

New York Stories [seg 'Life Lessons' dir by Martin Scorsese] c; 3 seg; other ph: Sven Nykvist & Vittorio Storaro

1988

Imagine: John Lennon [Andrew Solt] 16mm-35bu/b&w-c; doc/106m

1989

Reversal of Fortune [Barbet Schroeder] was the intended doph, but couldn't ph the film due to a scheduling conflict; film was ph by Luciano Tovoli

1989

Catherine Deneuve, un portrait [Antoinette Fouque] 16mm/c; doc/?m

[Left] with Martin Scorsese and Giorgio Armani

"Made in Milan" - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

1990

Made in Milan [Martin Scorsese] c; doc/27m

1990

Billy Bathgate [Robert Benton] c; vfx ph: John P. Mesa; uwph: Jordan Klein Sr.

1991

The Mambo Kings [Arne Glimcher] c; pick-up ph; ph: Michael Ballhaus


 TELEVISION

1965

Le jardin public [Nestor Almendros] doc/24m/16mm/b&w; ep series 'Étude du milieu'

1965

La gare [Nestor Almendros] doc/20m/16mm/b&w

1965

Un dimanche chez le pâtissier [Nestor Almendros] doc/5m/16mm/b&w; ep series 'Dim Dam Dom'

196?

La journée d'un savant [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

La journée d'un medecin [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

La journée d'un journaliste [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

La journée d'une vendeuse [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

Au pays basque [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

En Corse [Nestor Almendros] doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

La Grèce [Nestor Almendros] 3-part doc/?m/16mm/b&w

196?

La vie économique au XIIIème siècle [Nestor Almendros] 3-part doc/?m/16mm/b&w

1968

Holiday in London Town [Nestor Almendros] 7-part doc/?m/16mm/b&w

1970

La créature [Claude Guillemot] tvm/60m/16mm

1976

Des journées entières dans les arbres/Entire Days Among the Trees [Marguerite Duras] tvm/16mm; also released theatrically (35bu)

1977

Le Centre Georges Pompidou - Beaubourg/Beaubourg, centre d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou  [Roberto Rossellini] doc/57m; cph: Jean Chiabaut & Emmanuel Machuel


 FILMS & TELEVISION AS DIRECTOR

1950

Una confusión cotidiana [co-d; + ph] see Films

1951

La boticaria [+ ph] unfinished; see Films

1953

Un monólogo de Hamlet [co-d; + cph] see Films

1953

Sabá [+ ph] see Films

195?

Nunca [+ ph] unfinished; see Films

1956

The Mount of Luna [+ ph] see Films

1959

58-59 [+ scrpl/ph] see Films

1960

Escuelas rurales/Escuela rural [doc/16m/b&w; + scrpl] ph: Jorge Haydú

1960

Ritmo de Cuba [doc/20m/c; + scrpl] ph: Antonio Ruiz; prod ICAIC

1960

Gente en la playa/Sunday by the Sea/People of the Beach [+ scrpl/ph] see Films

1961

La tumba francesca [co-d; + scrpl/cph] see Films

1965

Le jardin public [+ ph] see Television

1965

La gare [+ ph] see Television

1965

Un dimanche chez le pâtissier [+ ph] see Television

196?

La journée d'un savant [+ ph] see Television

196?

La journée d'un medecin [+ ph] see Television

196?

La journée d'un journaliste [+ ph] see Television

196?

La journée d'une vendeuse [+ ph] see Television

196?

Au pays basque [+ ph] see Television

196?

En Corse [+ ph] see Television

196?

La Grèce [+ ph] see Television

196?

La vie économique au XIIIème siècle [+ ph] see Television

1968

Holiday in London Town [+ ph] see Television

1969

El baston [+ scrpl/ph] see Films

1983

Mauvaise conduite/Improper Conduct [co-d: Orlando Jiménez Leal; + co-scrpl; doc/115m] ph: Dominique Merlin

1984

Nadie escuchaba/Nobody Listened [co-d: Jorge Ulla; + co-prod/co-scrpl; doc/117m] ph: Orson Ochoa


 MISCELLANEOUS

1964

Paris vu par.../Six in Paris [seg #6 'La Muette' dir by Claude Chabrol] asst dir; ph: Jean Rabier

1973

Villa 'Les Dunes' [Madeleine Hartmann-Clausset] tech adv; ph: François Pailleux